1978: Endangered American Wilderness Act

Noting that "these and other undeveloped national forest lands exhibiting wilderness values are immediately threatened by pressures of a growing and more mobile population, large-scale industrial and economic growth, and development and uses inconsistent with the protection, maintenance, restoration, and enhancement of their wilderness character...," Congress passed the Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978.

Declaring it "in the national interest," this Congressional action also came in response to an increasingly critical view of Forest Service inventories and management of unprotected wildlands. In a pointed critique of the agency that had often expressed pride in being the first to protect lands as wilderness, the Endangered American Wilderness Act stated, "[these] areas are lands not being adequately protected or fully studied for wilderness suitability by the agency responsible for their administration."

In all, the Act added 13 new wilderness areas and expanded four others in ten western states for a total addition of 1.3 million acres of national forest lands to the National Wilderness Preservation System.


Public Law 95-237, Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978, February 24, 1978.